Fear Free for the win with Dr. Marty Becker, DVM

I had the extreme privilege and honour of meeting Dr. Marty Becker, DVM who was the keynote speaker at this past weekend’s CVMA-SBCV Fall Conference in Vancouver, BC.

This next phrase is something I am extremely certain about…Dr. Marty Becker, DVM is my hero. He is the founder of Fear Free which is a wonderful initiative (and now a reality) that teaches us how to look after animal’s emotional well being. Those of us who work with animals and share our lives with animals don’t work and live with animals with the intention of harming them and causing them stress. Stress can be very damaging to one’s physical health. Animals emotional AND physical well being go hand in hand. We can’t just look after their physical needs with out also considering and looking after their emotional needs and well being.

Fear Free teaches us to look for signs of fear, anxiety and stress in animals and it gives us the tools to help reduce and (even better) to eliminate what is causing fear, anxiety and stress in animals. Fear Free Certification training has been developed for Veterinary Professionals, Trainers and Groomers. The future of Fear Free also includes training for Shelters and Pet Sitters/Dog Walkers.

I am currently Level 1 Fear Free Certified, and you can bet that I will most definitely be participating in the Fear Free Shelter & Pet Sitters/Dog Walkers training once it becomes available. This is part of my commitment in being a Pet Care Professional and only providing the best care and the best experience for pets in my care.

Their website www.fearfreepets.com offers more in-depth information on the foundations of Fear Free in the area of Veterinary, Training and Grooming.

Please visit www.fearfreehappyhomes.com for more information (much of it is free) to see how you can help create an enriched and fear free life for your furry family members.

Be sure to check this out as it can truly transform your pet’s life and your life!

#fearfreepets #fearfree

Your Cat’s Health – Part 2 – Tips for a happy healthy life for our feline friends:

  • Drinking Fountain:
    There are several different water fountains for cats that simulate drinking from a stream or water faucet.  The model we prefer is the Drinkwell Pet Fountain.  It can be easily taken apart and cleaned, has charcoal filters that can be replaced as needed and you can purchase an optional reservoir which is great for multi-cat households or cats that require lots of fresh water.  We also like the stainless steel fountains as they are not porous, even easier to clean and dishwasher safe!

  • Feline Furniture:
    Cat Condos will give your cat a place of their own, increase vertical space in your home and create “safe zones” from dogs, children or other cats.  Scratching posts and horizontal cardboard scratching pads give your cat an appropriate surface to scratch. Cardboard scratchers are available at most pet retail outlets.

  • Foraging Toys:
    These are toys that must be manipulated for your cat to obtain a food reward. Unfortunately, there are not nearly as many styles of foraging toys commercially available for cats as there are for their canine counterparts. You can make your own foraging toys by using small plastic household containers and cutting out holes that are slightly larger than the size of the food/treats that you will put inside.  Another homemade variation would be a shoebox with holes cut out about the size of a ping pong ball and then fill with treats and a few ping pong balls as an “obstacle”.  Be sure to tape the lid on.

  • Hunting:
    In addition to foraging, satisfy your cat’s prey drive, by hiding treats or food around the house, in places your cat frequents such as: on top of their scratching post, cat condos, window seats or anywhere you know they will seek it out or stumble upon it.

  • Interactive Toys:
    These are toys that allow you and you cat to play together and often provide great exercise for your cat.  The Feline Flyer is a feather toy that mimics a bird and the Dragonfly is a toy on a wire creating erratic movement.  A good old fashion piece of string works great too-just make sure to always put it away when playtime is over.  If ingested, string or ribbon can cause an intestinal obstruction which is very dangerous. There are a myriad of interactive toys available, find the one that peeks your cat’s prey drive! Play with your cat daily!

    (Content provided by: Fundamentally Feline, Ingrid Johnson, CCBC.)

  • cat

    Your Cat’s Health – Tips for a happy healthy life for our feline friends:

    How to Entertain our Kitties’ brains! Environmental Enrichment Ideas for Indoor Cats!
    Here are some suggestions for keeping them active, stimulated and happy. Cats are very prey specific, so trying varieties of toys is important to find just what your cat likes to hunt.

    • Bringing the Outside In:
      As long as your cat is current on vaccinations and deworming, bring in tree branches, rocks, leaves, things from the outdoors to pique their senses. Try hiding treats around or under these items for extra fun, or fill a box with leaves and throw a handful of treats in for your cat to forage. Additionally, you may purchase live catnip or grass plants from most pet stores.
    • Cat Carrier:
      Try leaving your cat’s carrier out in the home all the time. Make it inviting by placing bedding and/or treats inside for your cat to enjoy. This will also desensitize your cat to the carrier making trips to the vet easier for both of you. Clicker training is a positive way to train your cat to willingly enter their cat carrier. Teaching this could save their life in case of an emergency!
    • Catnip Marinade:
      Place all soft fuzzy toys in container with catnip to “marinate”. You can do this as often as needed to refresh the scent. This can be financially helpful because you won’t have to buy new toys as often.
    • Chirping Fuzzy Mice and Birds:
      There are many versions of these motion activated toys. Some chirp like live mice, some move around and some have flashing lights.
    • Clicker Training:
      Clicker training can be used as both an enrichment tool and as a training aid to fix unwanted behaviors. Cats are incredibly intelligent and trainable we simply have to create that expectation! Clicker training can help control less desirable behaviors such as counter surfing or inappropriate scratching or teach them to run an agility course for fun and exercise! Cats can be trained to sit, come, high-five, shake even walk on a leash and harness. Much like their canine counterparts, training your cat stimulates the brain, gives them a job to do and gives them a more enriched life. A good reference book is “Training Your Cat” by Dr. Kersti Seksel or “Naughty No More” by Marilyn Krieger. Karen Pryor is also the go to source for all thing clicker related!

    (Content provided by: Fundamentally Feline, Ingrid Johnson, CCBC.)

    Fido’s Top Ten Tips before you go on holidays:

    • Schedules are important. Make reservations for a pet sitter as far in advance as possible and remember to call the sitter if you are coming home later or earlier than expected. This will allow the pet sitter to plan for extra visits.
    • Advise your veterinarian that a pet sitter will be caring for your pet(s) and authorize the vet to extend medical care during your absence if it becomes necessary.
    • Make sure the pet sitter has a telephone number where you can be reached, including cell phone numbers. Also provide an email address if that is the best way to reach you.
    • Provide the pet sitter with a house key in addition to garage door openers if inside visits are requested. (During power failures, garage door openers may not work). If you have a new key made, please try it out to be sure it works. Include instructions for operations of security systems.
    • Have everything necessary to care for your pet in one general area. This includes: food, treats, utensils, food and water bowls, medications, leash, can opener, toys, paper towels, cleaning supplies, garbage bags, broom/dustpan or vacuum cleaner, towels (for rainy day walks), watering can for plants (if needed).
    • Provide extra food and supplies just in case you are not able to return if anticipated.
    • For the comfort of your pet(s), adjust your thermostat before leaving on a trip. A closed-up home can get dangerously hot in a short time. Also consider leaving an item of clothing you’ve recently worn where your pet sleeps to provide a “security blanket” for them.
    • Leave a list of phone numbers in the event the sitter needs to call any of the following while you are away: cleaning service, plumber, electrician, gardener/yard maintenance, emergency contact, veterinarian office.
    • Show the pet sitter where the fuse box or circuit breaker is located.
    • Tell the pet sitter if bathrooms or any other household areas are off limits to pets and/or sitters. Secure access to these areas before leaving home.

    (Content provided by: Pet Sitters International Inc.)

    Why Use a Professional Pet Sitter?

    Advantages for Your Pet

    • Reduced Stress. Your pet stays in his/her own familiar, secure home environment where all the sights, smells and sounds say “Home!”
    • Diet and Exercise. Customary diet and exercise routines are followed, with no interruption to upset your pet.
    • No “Travel Trauma.”
    • Health Concerns. Minimal exposure to illnesses of other animals.
    • TLC. Most importantly, your pet receives love and personal attention while you are away.

    Advantages for You

    • No “Travel Trauma.”
    • No Imposition. You don’t have to impose on a friend, neighbour or relative to care for your pet. Instead, you can rely on a pet care professional who will put your pet’s needs first.
    • Security. Your home is made more secure by the crime deterrent services provided by most pet sitting services.
    • Special Services. Pet sitters provide additional home services while caring for your pet, such as watering plants and bringing in the mail.
    • Peace of Mind. While you’re away, you can feel confident your pet is in capable, caring hands.

    (Content provided by: Pet Sitters International Inc.)